Bush's decision to endorse a Constitutional Amendment that
would ban states from extending the legal protections of civil
marriage to gay and lesbian couples is deeply troubling. Jewish
values and American history require individuals to speak out
against this egregious proposal to enshrine discrimination
against a specific group of citizens and intolerance of specific
religious beliefs into our nation's most sacred document.
The fight for equality
is uniquely tied to the history of this nation. From the suffrage
movement, to the civil rights movement, to the gay rights
movement, minorities in this country have worked tirelessly
to achieve equal rights as guaranteed to them by the founding
visions of the United States. It is this history and this
sense of morality that compels condemnation of the Federal
to this amendment comes from the very basic belief that all
human beings are created b'tzelem Elohim (in the
Divine image), as it says in Genesis 1:27, "And God created
humans in God's image, in the image of God, God created them;
male and female God created them."
believe that all people are made b'tzelem Elohim,
in the image of God, and that the diversity of humanity reflects
the vastness of the Eternal One then we must act in that manner.
Each individual is inherently valuable, and in this spirit,
we must embrace our diversity and demand equality for all.
In Judaism, it
is taught that the family serves as the fundamental institution
of society - families rooted in love between two committed,
caring adults - and families devoted to raising children in
a loving, supportive environment. Families of loving gay and
lesbian couples are capable of creating a nurturing environment
for children, and the unions of loving gay and lesbian couples
are worthy of affirmation through Jewish ritual.
There is tremendous
value in the diversity of religious traditions. Respect for
the beliefs of people whose religions are opposed to same-sex
marriages is part of that diversity. No one would ever want
any clergy member, synagogue, or church forced to sanctify
a same-sex religious wedding if he or she did not want to.
But an amendment to the Constitution is not necessary to protect
that freedom. The government will never force religious institutions
to recognize, sanctify, or condone any marital union. In fact,
this national debate in which we are embroiled has nothing
to do with religious wedding ceremonies. Regardless of what
our politicians decide, some religions will continue to sanctify
same-sex marriages, and some never will. Civil marriage must
be differentiated from religious marriage - because religious
marriage is an institution and a religious concept that must
remain the domain of religion, but civil marriage is a set
of legal protections and benefits that the government grants
based on the possession of a civil marriage license. Not all
religions should have to recognize same-sex religious marriage,
yet at the same time, the government must give equal protection
to all its citizens and equal respect to all its religions.
legislation is not about protecting families. Certainly, my
family will not be hurt by giving the states the freedom to
recognize the committed spiritual relationship of two loving
adults. How can two loving adults coming together to form
a beautiful family harm family values? Are our families and
marriages and communities so fragile and shallow that they
are threatened by the love between two adults of the same
sex? We must work to ensure that such an effort to enshrine
homophobia, intolerance, and inequality in our Constitution
fails and does so by an overwhelming margin.
We are all God's
children. We are all one people. Let us stop issuing decrees
of hatred and begin enacting legislation and implementing
policies that will foster healthy, loving, caring, and committed
relationships. Let us ensure that in this nation, none will
ever again be discriminated against on the basis of sexual
orientation or religious conviction.
Rabbi Michael Namath is the program director of the
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism..
Union for Reform Judaism: Serving Reform Congregations
in North America proudly announces our 15th
annual summer Kallot, adult study and spirituality retreats,
to take place July 7 - 11 at University of California
Santa Cruz and July 21-25 at Franklin Pierce College,
Rindge, NH. The theme for both kallot is HeChalutz,
The Pioneer : Where and When Jews Reinvented Judaism.
For more information go to the Kallah
Website or contact Sina Clark, Kallah Registrar
at 212.650.4087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A limited number of partial scholarships are available
on a first come - first served basis
the Religious Action Center's RACNEWS and receive legislative
updates on these and other issues of concern go to the Religious
Action Center's website.
more information and recommended reading go to: